6:00: Morning News

Bridgeport native conquers English Channel swim

BOURNEMOUTH, England — Bridgeport native Laura Goodwin dipped her toe into competitive swimming waters at the age of 9 and as a 44-year-old swimming coach she has completed a swim across the English Channel in 10 minutes and 44 seconds.

Goodwin, speaking from Bournemouth, England, during an appearance on MetroNews “Talkline” Monday, said the 21-mile swim from England to France on July 11 required years of preparation and she feels fortunate to have accomplished it.

The English Channel is known for cold, choppy water, powerful tides and a large population of jellyfish. The optimal time to complete the swim is between July and August, according to experts.

“Throughout the day I would picture my family watching the tracker online,” Goodwin said. “Just knowing there were people that cared about me and pulling for me the whole day was so incredibly helpful.”

Goodwin swam competitively in college at Washington and Lee University, but didn’t begin open water training until her 20s in a California lake. She deepened her experience in endurance swimming after moving to South Carolina and by 2019 she was ready to fund the $3,500 attempt.

Each attempt requires a pilot boat and guide crew and takes about two years of lead time to arrange.

“Luckily I’ve experienced that enough times that I knew if I just kept going I would push through it,” Goodwin said. “But, there is a lot of singing of songs that might make a lot of sense one way or another.”

During her nearly 11 hours in the water, Goodwin said she sang songs like “Playing with the Boys” from the “Top Gun” movie and fought through as many as five stings from jellyfish, one sting she suffered on her face.

“It was on my face and when I would come up for feeds it would get hot and feel uncomfortable, but eventually it got better” Goodwin said.

Singing, breaks for chocolate milk and focusing only on the task at hand were big factors in completing the swim. Now, Goodwin is one of 2,696 people who have completed the 21-mile swim since 1875.

“They tell you not look at France, just don’t look at it at all because it doesn’t get any closer, and I did that,” Goodwin said. “So, I was quite surprised when I looked up and there were giant cliffs above me.”

Goodwin has not closed the door on another major endurance swim, but she has not speculated on what that might be. Now, she’ll return to coaching like she did when living in California where she coached swimmers of all ages to battle the temperatures and conditions in San Francisco Bay.

“My next goal is to help other swimmers as a coach and work just as hard for them as I worked for this and as much as other people have helped me,” Goodwin said.

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